A cut above: The expert guide to investing in a high-quality suit

Buy the best suit 2022
Priya Elan,-The Sunday Times Style Features Editor

Looking for the perfect two-piece this festive season? Priya Elan, Features Editor of The Sunday Times Style, shares his expert menswear tips

When it comes to choosing a suit, it’s important to find one that works for you. Sure, tailoring is one of the oldest fashion art forms, but that doesn’t mean you have to let your uniqueness fall by the wayside.

Every modern man needs a good tailor-made suit that works with their lifestyle. After all, the best clothes tell the story of who you are. If you want that suit to tell a number of different stories for the different occasions and moods in your life, then opt for a navy colour. Unlike black, it can easily be dressed down for casual Friday or a first date, and it can also be dressed up for a job interview or smart dinner. Wearing it with a white shirt is the classic pairing, but the thing about navy is that it’s subtle enough to pair just as well with neckwear, jumpers or tees in any colour, from burgundy to green.

John Lewis Super 100s Wool Birdseye Regular Fit Suit

The wardrobe staple

The Birdseye navy suit from John Lewis is softly tailored on the shoulders, giving it a casual, modern vibe. You can buy it as separates or invest in a three-piece. Plus, it’s crafted using ‘super 100s’ wool, which refers to the number of times the wool has been twisted (the higher the number, the finer the wool), so this suit offers fantastic quality for the price.

Now that many of us are hybrid working, the dress code has drifted from ‘cool casual’ to ‘smart cool’. Often, especially when I’ve been hot desking or freelancing, I’ve never really known what the dress code will be before entering the office for the first time. However, there are ways of hitting that tailored look with a more casual tone, while still ticking the boxes of style, comfort and class. A tailored trouser or smart jacket will always be your reliable friend, giving you a sense of confidence when stepping into the unknown.

Team your trousers with a soft knit, like the Italian cashmere V-neck jumper from John Lewis. Available in 16 shades, it is made from the finest cashmere to give a softer, smoother feel and is great as a luxurious layering option that can be easily dressed up or down. For a dash of personality, add pocket squares, a bold tie or cufflinks. Or, for a quick win, buy a shirt in a shade lighter than you would normally try. It can make a world of difference.

When I’m in the mood to be really different, I’ll put the suit itself in the spotlight – that was certainly true of my first suit. Influenced by the charity-shop garms of Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker, I borrowed a secondhand two-piece from a relative when I was a teenager. It was hazelnut brown and wide-set. Sometimes I would add cool separates, like a V-neck jumper to give it a classy, off-duty James Bond vibe. I felt very fancy when I wore it for my first-ever grown-up dinner party. Of course, the sizing was terribly off, but it was more about the look: Patrick Bateman meets Young Americans-era David Bowie – at least, that’s what was going on in my mind. In reality I probably looked a bit like a Twiglet wearing a baked potato.

John Lewis Corduroy Notch Lapel Regular Fit Suit Jacket, Copper

The corduroy comeback

The last two-piece I bought was also a bit of a showstopper but, I like to think, in a much better way. A bottle-green corduroy number, it’s smart but unconventional enough to make me feel special. Indeed, corduroy has made a comeback in recent years, especially with the rise of thrifting, since it’s such a durable fabric. I’ve worn it to the office, a wedding, and also paired just the trousers with casual tops. A great suit will always work as separates, and the copper-coloured corduroy jacket from John Lewis fits the bill perfectly. It’s expertly tailored but also left-of-centre enough to cause a minor water-cooler moment at the office. The jacket worn solo also looks good styled casually – pair with a white tee tucked into denim.

For a more smart-casual vibe, I’d swap the tee for a soft-collared shirt or fine-knit rollneck. Best of all? It’s easy to maintain, terrifically soft to the touch and will only get better with age, which sums up the hallmarks of every perfect suit.

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